Category Archives: Ottawa

Watson turns the page, others haven’t

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Jim Watson has turned the page and has moved on from the fiasco that is all about the design of an addition that the owners of the Chateau Laurier what to pop on the site of the torn down parking garage.  Jim Watson has moved on, he’s moved onto to his LRT to the City of Ottawa gets the keys to the trains the middle of August from Rideau Transit Group.  He is getting the keys more than a year late and several missed deadlines later.

Jim Watson and 12 other councillors have moved on since Thursday July 11th when reconsideration of Councillor Fleury’s  motion to deny Larco, the owners of the Chateau Laurier their permit to build an addition.  Ten Ottawa City Councillors led by Mathieu Fleury, Heritage Ottawa and thousands of Ottawa voters that have signed petitions haven’t moved on, rather they’ve firmly planted themselves in a position that they hope will block backhoes from starting construction.

This story goes back years, the major sticking point is that City Council passed a heritage permit. The owners of the Chateau have presented five designs, all of which have been panned by the public, but have met the guidelines set out in the heritage permit.    The application has a few minor steps before ground can be broken and construction can begin on a design that has been called a car radiator.  City Council has the right to deny a permit to build if it doesn’t like the design, but in this case they didn’t, fearing a costly lawsuit.

It appears that a majority, maybe all of council does not like the design the owners are determined to build, but 14 voted to deny Fleury his opportunity, one last time, to have the permit revoked.  Mayor Watson must have let out a big sigh before he slid out the back door of council chambers to begin his vacation when the final vote tally was counted.
img_20180405_1541418638794165793251928.jpgI think the problem the public (and few public figures) has with the design is that the architects haven’t really veered far from design number one.  The fourth reiteration of the original drawing is still basically a box being stapled to a castle.  I’ve seen more imagination in the design of a building on a beach.

While Larco dreams of Bob the Builder, Councillors Fleury, Meehan, Deans, and others along with Heritage Ottawa and the Friends of the Chateau Laurier will be spending the time the Mayor is away looking to stop those dreams.  While all this planning takes place will the Mayor actually has a peaceful vacation with nothing on his mind?

 

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter@robertdekker& @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

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Ottawa Jazzfest: Norah Jones

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Photo by Jim McQuaid

I have discovered that one of the sweetest sounds in music is that of the Hammond organ.  It’s a mainstay of blues, early 70’s rock and at Ottawa Jazzfest Norah Jones had one in her band!  Topping it off, it was the opening sound of her concert, I knew it would be a great show.

For me Norah Jones did not disappoint, it was what I was expecting, as was my friend Glen who joined me that evening.  We lucked out on a good spot to put our chairs, the weather was perfect and through the evening I swayed to everything that Norah played switching between newer material and favourites from earlier albums.

Through the 90 minute set the fan favourites came out, and just as the appearance of the Hammond organ was a surprise, so was the musicianship of Ms. Jones (though I should not have been). While I am sure everyone was waiting for the hits from her debut Lp, she snuck “Come away with me” by stepping away from the piano and strapping an electric guitar around her neck and started the opening chords.  Well received was Sunrise, for which Norah played acoustic guitar along while mentioning that she “often plays this song at sunset”.

One of the strongest performances of the evening was on Neil Young’s “Don’t be denied”, which she played as part of her encore, it’s a song she has performed with Neil at his Bridge School concerts. Her version comes from her 2016 Lp ‘Day Breaks’, a critically acclaimed album that was named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 50 Lps of 2016 and has an average rating of 4 stars.

One of the cutest moments of the evening came at a point in the show where three fire engines roared down Laurier Ave heading downtown.  Jones waited about 15 to 20 seconds for the fire trucks to pass before starting into ”Don’t know why” from her ‘Come with me’ debut album, the wait for it seems appropriate.

The band was tight and kudos go to her the musicians starting with keyboardist Pete Remm on the previously mentioned Hammond and other keyboards, Josh Latanzzi on bass and the grooviest drummer I have every seen play Greg Wieczorek, who had a groove going – he kept us moving all night long.

By the time the final strains of a very cool acoustic “Lonestar” floated into the night sky Norah was gone.  Me with Ms. Jones at Jazzfest was one of the most satisfying shows I’ve seen in a long time.  I got what I expected and more, including the sounds of a Hammond organ.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter@robertdekker& @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Ottawa Jazzfest: Chicago

Chicago Isle of Wight

This photo is from the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, and appears on the cover of the 2 LP set

It was a perfect Chicago evening, a breeze cooled the air as thousands filled every available square foot of real estate of Marion Dewar Plaza.  Liz and I brought chairs but didn’t sit in them during the show as there was a section of people standing on the cement pad which would have blocked us from seeing the band if se sat down.  I didn’t mind the standing, it was was worth it standing to see the band.

The original Chicago Transit Authority was repped by James Pankow (keyboards and vocals), Robert Lamm (Trombone) and Lee Loughnane (Trumpet, Flute and Vocals). Since the death Terry Kath there has been a many musicians that have called Chicago ‘home’.  Canadian Neil Donnel, the latest lead vocalist,  performed most of the vocals that were primarily sung by original Chicagoan Peter Cetera and later by Bill Champain in the David Foster era of hits such as “You’re the Inspiration”, “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”, “Look Away” and “Hard Habit to Break”.  It’s almost like the band looks for singers that can emulate that classic Cetera vocal style.

For the most part this was a hit laden concert, the horns figured prominently (as they should) musically and physically as Lamm, Loughnane and Larry Klimas (who has toured with the band since 2003) took centre stage through out the entire show.  Watching James Pankow weld his trombone like a guitar around the stage it shows that he along with the other originals still enjoy hitting the road.  This year marks 52 years of touring, Pankow (72 years old), Loughnane (73) and Lamm (75) don’t show signs of slowing down.  An extended percussion performance from the duo of Walter Reyes Jr. and Ramon Yslas as entertaining as it was, clearly was meant to give the band a break before the final stretch of the concert.

Musically the band hit most of the songs those attending wanted to hear including ‘Just You and Me’, the encore of ‘24 or 6 to 4’ a rousing ‘Saturday in the Park’, the previously mentioned David Foster hits and a fabulous “I’m am Man” and an amazing ‘Old Days’, one of the personal favourites from the band.

The concert as good as it was, was technically poor, some vocals were hard to hear, the video work was below par and the blending of camera shots on the screen was non-existent.

From this concert I went and purchased the 2018 release of the two LP set of Chicago at the Isle of Wight Music Festival.  Performed in August of 1970, included on the album were 5 songs performed in June of 2019 – including ‘Beginnings’, ‘I’m a man’ and ‘Does anyone really know what time it is’.  This weeks performance of ‘Does anyone really know what time it is’ was amazing; the opening horns of the the song brought everyone to their feet!

I’ll rate Chicago at Ottawa Jazzfest as 8 out of ten, 2 points lost because of technical shortfalls.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter@robertdekker & @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

The Golden Rule of Social Media

Golen RuleThere are only weeks until the campaigning for the 43rd General Election in Canada starts. However the state of political discourse in Canada has never been as low as it is before an election as it is today. The language we’re speaking, the assumptions we’re making and the tone we’re using all are contributing to the discourse and really the anger in the conversations are at levels I have never heard before.

What are the origins of the new lows of our political discussions, where did we accept this behavior? Why do we accept this behavior? Have our leaders brought us to this point? Who do we hold responsible? Is all this because our new communication devices allow us, anyone to to have a personal soapbox? Our new communication freedom also brings millions of voices to us in a click.

There are voices that generate a lot of emotion, we all immediately think of @realDonaldTrump and his daily tweets – he generates strong reactions from supporters and opponents. In Canada our political leaders may not generate the same emotion, but Canadians are engaging. What concerns me is that we can’t engage without some people confusing opinion with information. As an example, this post and blog is based on my opinions and where ever possible I will insert information that support my opinion.

I cannot the only one concerned with this, I think that many Canadians share this with me, and now Parliamentarians must share this opinion as well; The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Parliament Hill is currently studying “Online Hate”. The committee has been hearing from witnesses since April. With Parliament approaching the summer recess the study will be wrapping up so that a report can be written and tabled before the House rises. The report will include recommendations that might be the basis for campaign promises during the upcoming election.

It is easy to compartmentalize hate as coming from one side of the political spectrum; one side claims to be on the side of good, automatically labeling the other as hateful. Online its easy, some people are faceless and nameless. Can you imagine if school playgrounds were treated the same as social media? If that were the case the principal’s office would have a line-up of combatants having to ‘explain themselves’ and their actions. If we never tolerated this type of activity in schoolyards, why do we allow it online?

I’ll wait for the report from the Justice and Human Rights Committee and read it with great interest. The committee heard from witnesses from many faiths, ethnic groups, LGBT groups, Gender groups, Human Rights, government departments and agencies and Individuals came and provided testimony. Will this provide an insight into how or if the government should regulate hate speech online.

Interestingly, the week the Justice Committee was meeting, the International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy was also meeting in Ottawa. The second Grand Council of the committee was in Ottawa to have the tech giants talk about data security, #fakenews and privacy. The meeting had the understated question if FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) should be required to do more that they are? The meeting was overshadowed by the decision by Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg ignored a summons to appear in front of the committee.

Parents, teachers, principals, school administrators and others wouldn’t allow faceless and nameless bullies on school property during recess to harm the children, why do we tolerate them on social media where more harm can be done with words, images and videos – where people we don’t even know have access to influence others? Don’t we deserve a safe social media playground?

Isn’t it time we took into consideration the audiences, known and unknown, we have online and started to police our own words and actions and call out others who cross a line? Can’t we all use a better language online? Surely (mostly) everyone doesn’t use the same language in person that is used online. We all need to use the golden rule of social media, use the language you want used on your posts when you post and comment on others.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

My small green shift

This post is predicated on a great article in the Globe and Mail on Saturday May 11th about plastic and single use plastics in particular.  If you have not read it, I suggest you do.

coffee 1It’s been one week and I have NOT thrown out 18 Starbucks cups in the garbage, one week since Liz and I made the conscience decision to use only a travel coffee mug. It is a small step, one that on the grand scheme of things probably only makes me feel better about my small effort. The first day I walked in to my Starbucks, rather than mobile ordering, the manager gave me a weird look because I had not mobile ordered.  I said I can’t do it anymore, I asked him ‘do you have any idea how many cups I throw out?  He understood.

Does this get me closer to purchasing an electric vehicle?  No.

Does this get me closer to starting to lecture others on what they should do? No

But it is my little bit that I can do know, less garbage and less plastics – it is our single efforts to do a little that will have the greatest impacts.  Like I said, it’s a little for now, it will grow to doing more and to being made aware of where Liz and I can make little changes for a cleaner world.

This one article was an eye opening read.  It’s amazing how much we encourage people to recycle and how much actually GETS recycled. Yes, everyone feels good when the blue box, the black box and the green bin go to the curb.  If we all understood how little good this did, what actions would we be willing to take to make a bigger impact?  It is generally accepted that there is far too much packaging in goods we purchased day to day.  How do we get manufacturers to act on reducing packaging, especially items that are sealed in hard plastics. plastics that may or may not be accepted in our recycle bins.

It costs municipalities millions of dollars to have recycle programs, and the same municipalities may not earn much revenue from these same programs.  Municipalities struggle with cost vs good of a recycle program.  In Ottawa, the city spent $42.5M in 2018 on waste diversion and recycling.  In 2016 the City had revenues of $10.1M for paper and plastics.  However that revenue did not cover the costs of the pick up of the recyclables.  Part of the costs of Ottawa recycling in 2016 were picked up by Ontario’s stewardship program, in 2018 that program provides over $6M to the city.

How much longer can muncipalities afford these programs?  I know we can’t afford NOT to have them.  This should change with the Waste Free Ontario Act passed in 2016 by the Wynne government.  This act puts the onus on the manufactiers and producers shoulders.  They will need to find ways to reduce their packaging and I assume the cost of  packaging.

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As consumers we can demand better and should demand better of the manufacturers and of ourselves. Demand that what we buy has less packaging and demand that we buy products with less packaging.  We need to compare and reward those that make the effort needed.  It’s something I have started to pay attention to.

So for today it comes down to me and my travel coffee mug, less waste and my coffee staying hotter longer – its my small green shift.

 


Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter@robertdekker& @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Affordable Climate Change action, for some

mckennaThis week Environment and Climate Change Minister (and my MP) Catherine McKenna made an announcement, a funding announcement.  Joining her were area MP Anita Vandenbeld (Ottawa West Nepean) and Mona Fortier (Ottawa Vanier).  The funding provided would allow a grocery store to replace refrigeration and lighting in the store.  What a great idea, there are several local grocery and food operations that are struggling due to the high cost of food transportation and new carbon taxes.

What a coup for that local store to get that funding and an announcement with the Minister!

The store was a Loblaws store and the amount was $12M from the Low Carbon Economy Fund and that money would equal the emissions of 50,000 cars coming off the roads.  This is good funding money, but really, Loblaws? Loblaws not only had huge profits, but in 2017 also was found guilty of a 14-year long bread price fixing scheme. Loblaws Companies Limited had a net profit of $3.4B in 2018.    Minister McKenna could not find a local operation that has maybe 2 or 3 locations?  A small chain of specialty health food stores?  Kardish Foods, for one, comes to mind they are Ottawa local and a good local success story

I think however the number the Minister really wants everyone to focus on is 50,000 – as in the emissions reduction of taking 50K cars off the road.  BUT I argue that we should be looking at numbers like $3.4B in profit and $12M.

On the face of it, this announcement slaps small local stores that struggle with the high cost of hydro to keep lights, freezers and fridges running.  The Liberals could have done themselves a huge favour (and everyone knows they could use it) by making the announcement at a small butcher shop, a local restaurant, a health food store or any other example of a company that doesn’t make a profit of $3.4B.  Bog box chain stores like Loblaws don’t need funding announcements that represent a mere 0.35% of annual profits.

Gifting $12M to Loblaws tells me that Ottawa Centre MP Catherine McKenna has allowed the arrogance of Justin Trudeau and his Liberals to overtake any sense of normalcy she might have had. This announcement shows just how out of touch Trudeau and his team have become. It comes at a cost to Loblaws who have taken a social media hit and it will, if social media posts are to be believed, as many plan to never set foot in a Loblaws store again.

Liberals are saying that the LCEF is an application baesd program, but shouldn’t there be a financial aspect to this?  Should government funding to help those who can afford the type of retrofitting that Loblaws is going to get?  Any funding awarded from this program should benefit those who really wouldbenefit from it. In Ottawa Centre, the riding of Minister McKenna, is home to many small businesses; butcher shops, fish markets, fruit and vegtable stores, business that rely on refridgerators to stay in business.  I am sure that Minister McKenna shops in these stores that are close to her home in Ottawa.

While there’s huge role for the large comglomerates, climate action only works if the small businesses see that they get a buy in and are part of a solution.  In Question Period both the Conservatives and the NDP peppered the Liberals with questions why they were only helping companies that could afford the retrofits without money from the LCEF.

In what has become the Liberals achilles heel, where once they were seen as looking out for every Canadian, now they seem to be looking out for Canadians, but others get helped first.  Its actions like what took place this week that make Justin Trudeau and the Liberals as looking out for the 1% and those looking to stay in the 1%.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker& @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

She said He said They said

It seems like ages ago that the first word on a small issue that may or may not have started out of the Prime Ministers Office came out.  Did anyone think seven weeks ago that  we would still be talking about this?  In fact as the timeline extends on what is commonly known as #LavScam or “the thing that Liberals don’t want anyone to talk about” you just have to know there will be more.

The fallout has been emence; three cabinet shuffles, two resignations from cabinet, one Liberal MP is now sits as an independent, one ‘retirement’ and the resignation of the Principal Secretary for the Prime Minister. Then there is the collateral damage; a committee shutdown, an inaudible budget speech, a walkout and 31 hours of voting.  Apparently, even though the Prime Minister and the Liberals on the Justice Committee have all said that the story has been told they neglected to ask the person at the centre of the storm, Jody Wilson-Raybould (JWR) – she has more to say.

The Prime Minister is treating this like a chess match, saying that JWR has used up all her time, 4 hours, when she appeared at the Justice committee a few weeks back.  The problem with that situation is that following her testimony former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Gerald Butts came forward to tell his version of events to the committee.  In fact the Justice committee allowed now retired Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick to comeback to answer to some of JWR’s testimony.

Now that Butts and Wernick have had their chance to reply to JWR, the opposition have been pressing to have JWR back in front of the Justice Committee. They have held up regular proceedings in Parliament, they worked towards having the presentation of the budget delayed and forced a a vote on 257 motions, all spending items, that could – and almost did topple the government.

But wait, what’s this? The Liberals are willing to let JWR and Jane Philpott have their say, but not in a committee but in the House where parliamentary priviledge allows them to say anything without any threat of litigation on what is said.  The issue with this is that the government could and would limit Wilson-Raybould and Philpott’s speaking time and would not allow for questions to prode further into their statements.  This seems to be the message du jour from the Liberals as Judy Sgro and Melanie Joly have come out in favour of this and if this is what the Prime Minister wants expect more from the Liberal Caucus to speak out.

In the meantime Wilson-Raybould has said she will be sending a written statement with details of texts and emails that will further support her initial remarks. She can certainly send to the committee her written submission but I don’t think the Liberal majority on the committee will accept it, remember last week the Liberals forced an end to the study saying they had heard enough – nothing more is needed to be said.

The only thing I can safely say here; this is not going away. Just when you think all this is all done and there can be no more something happens and so far the something has been a misstep from the government. I mean, this is the third post I’ve written on this subject since February 12th, there will be more.

Both sides have called ‘check’ in this match of words and wills, but no one yet can claim “check-mate”.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net